- The Washington Times - Monday, February 4, 2002

The first time the Washington Wizards played the Indiana Pacers this season, they made a rookie point guard look like the second coming of Magic Johnson.
The next time the Pacers and Wizards matched up, Michael Jordan was held to a career-low six points.
Yesterday was payback time.
Led by Jordan's team-high 23 points, the Wizards placed six players in double figures and executed coach Doug Collins' game plan for the full 48 minutes to dispose of the Pacers 109-89. The victory was the Wizards' fifth in their last six games. It also moved them three games above .500 (24-21) for the first time since they were 17-14 on Jan.4.
The win, which was achieved short-handed Hubert Davis missed his third game with the flu was sweet because it came against an Indiana team that has typically swatted the Wizards around through the years, perhaps like no other team in the league.
Before yesterday's well-rounded effort the second such game overall in a row the Pacers (25-24) had won six in a row and 15 of the last 16 meetings between the teams. It was just the Wizards' eighth win against the Pacers in their last 38 games.
The two previous meetings this season were perfect examples. On Nov.22, Jamaal Tinsley scored 19 points, handed out 23 assists and grabbed 11 rebounds as the Pacers whipped the Wizards 110-103. And Dec.27 Indiana put a beating on Washington 108-81 in Jordan's six-point game.
The Pacers' dominance, which started before many of the present players were on the Wizards' roster Jordan included was part of the pregame focus.
"It was a very gratifying win against a team that gave us one of our most humiliating losses of the year, a team that basically just outran us the first few times we played," Collins said. "We didn't give them any spurts, and we only turned it over [seven] times. It's a great win for us against a team that has had our number. We never lost our focus the entire game."
That helped the Wizards shoot 52.4 percent from the floor and outrebound the Pacers 43-32.
Just as in Friday's victory against Atlanta, when Etan Thomas stepped up and had a strong game, the Wizards were forced to turn to some different faces to give them a lift.
Washington went with a smaller lineup that included Tyrone Nesby at power forward in place of regular starter Popeye Jones. Collins made the switch because the Pacers started 6-foot-9 greyhound Jonathan Bender at the position, and it paid off for the Wizards.
Nesby responded wonderfully, scoring 10 points and grabbing a team-high 10 rebounds to help the Wizards establish their rebounding advantage.
And there were others. Richard Hamilton, who started for the first time since partially tearing his groin on Dec.21, had 21 points in 38 minutes. Chris Whitney scored 18 points, including three 3-pointers to help Washington nail six of eight from behind the arc. Courtney Alexander continued the process of unearthing his game and finished with 15 points, and Jahidi White's 10 points and nine rebounds left him just short of a double-double.
Jalen Rose led the Pacers in two categories, points (27) and stupidity. Rose helped guarantee an Indiana loss when he and Jordan were whistled for technical fouls and had to be separated with 4:16 left and the Wizards leading by 14. Rose, who went jaw-to-jaw with Jordan before Collins pulled his star away, was ejected because he picked up an earlier technical when he tauntingly yelled something in Hamilton's ear after he made an uncontested breakaway layup.
Jordan and Rose had been exchanging elbows for most of the game. And following a Jordan layup, he and Rose again bumped each other as they headed back up court.
It was nothing personal, according to Jordan.
"It kind of got out of hand," Jordan said. "But this is nothing new. I have the highest regard for Jalen. Unfortunately it escalated to the point where he got his second technical. That's just the way the ball bounces."
Rose had been the best player on the court until that point, and after the game he admitted his ejection was a costly one.
"Of course it [cost us]. I have to find a way to keep my composure," Rose said. "Obviously in the heat of the battle you do and say things you may regret in the end. But Michael was probably tired of me being in his face. This was the third game we've played this year, and I was tired of him trying to score on me every time he got the ball. I think we were just competing and trying to do what we could to help our teams with neither one of us willing to back down."


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